Life could have been easy for Carly Simon. A daughter of the co-founder of publishing Simon & Schuster, this onetime college dropout turned to music to quell the challenges of her childhood, including a debilitating stutter. After starting a short-lived folk duo with her sister Lucy in the '60s, Simon struck out on her own at the beginning of the '70s, and would become one of the decade's most quintessential musicians. With some two dozen hit singles and a half-century of albums under her belt - packed with heartfelt, honest songwriting that reaches the depths of joy and heartache - fans remain grateful for the songs she's lent her inimitable voice to.
Here's seven of our favorites by Simon - a brilliant artist and a legend in her own time.
"That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" (1971): While only in her mid-20s with no marriages (or divorces) yet on the books when releasing her self-titled debut in 1971, Carly immediately grabbed people's ears and hearts with her first single, a bittersweet meditation on love, marriage and all its promises and perils. While she didn't turn her Grammy Award nomination for the track (in the category of Best Female Pop Vocal Performance) into a win, she did earn a trophy for Best New Artist - and a promising career was beginning.
"Anticipation" (1971): Written while waiting to go on a date with folk singer Cat Stevens, the title track of Carly's second solo album - released the same year as her first - solidified her knack for spinning captivating lyrical yarns with honeyed, sticky melodies to match.
"Mockingbird" (1974): This adaptation of the popular nursery rhyme - sung alongside then-husband James Taylor, with whom she welcomed two children - became one of Simon's biggest charts hits (her second Top 10). And it spurred the singer to overcome her legendary stage fright to perform it alongside Taylor during a joint tour.
"Nobody Does It Better" (1977): With this sensuous torch song for the James Bond flick The Spy Who Loved Me, Simon started stretching her skills as a song interpreter - and made her first appearance on an Oscar-nominated song. (Her version of "Let the River Run," for 1988's Working Girl, would win an Academy Award more than a decade later.)
"Why" (1982): One of the most unique entries in Carly's canon, this funk-reggae track was written and produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of CHIC for a mostly-forgotten soundtrack they assembled to a movie called Soup for One. American audiences had moved on from disco (and hadn't yet fallen for Rodgers' and Edwards' production work on hits for David Bowie, Madonna and Duran Duran), but in the U.K., "Why" became another Top 10 smash.
"Coming Around Again" (1986): Another song for a somewhat forgotten film (the Meryl Streep-Jack Nicholson vehicle Heartburn), "Coming Around Again" ended a brief chart drought for Simon. The dramatic rendering of an upside-down household united by love is sold by Carly's always-expressive voice delivering some of the most powerful notes of her career.